FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY: Moving your child from picture books to novels |

FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY: Moving your child from picture books to novels

This is the sixth and final article in a series by children’s librarian Teri Rinne on “Reading With Children.”

Finally we’ve reached the final frontier of our read-aloud adventure: the world of chapter books and novels.

Depending upon a child’s attention span, an older preschooler and early elementary student can begin to enjoy short novels. Short novels designed for this age are usually under 100 pages in length and have illustrations throughout, thus bridging the gap between picture books and novels quite seamlessly.

Two favorite series of chapter books for 4- to 7-year-olds on the shelves at the Truckee Library are Mary Pope Osborne’s “Magic Treehouse” and Jahanna N. Malcolm’s (actually a pen name for husband/wife writing duo Jahanna and Malcolm) “Jewel Kingdom.”

The “Magic Treehouse” series chronicles the adventures of Jack and Annie, a sister-brother team, who time-travel through history in their magic treehouse. “The Jewel Kingdom,” most popular with girls, is a series of short fantasy books featuring princesses named after precious gems (Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, etc.). While this series may look a bit fluffy, the characters actually provide strong role models for little girls.

The full-length novel contains more detail and descriptive passages, requiring more imagination on the part of the reader or listener. One of the all-time read-aloud favorites in this genre is E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web,” written at a fourth grade reading level, but easily understood by 6-year-olds.

Read-aloud guru Jim Trelease’s favorite full-length novel to share with children is Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach.”

“It’s my first choice a thousand times over, for almost any child,” writes Trelease. “Any book that can hold the attention and lift the imaginations of kindergarteners as well as sixth graders has to have magic in it.”

Speaking of magic, Harry Potter mania has sparked a renaissance in the chapter book read-alouds in homes throughout the world. While the earlier books in the series are written for ages 9-12, children of all ages are begging to hear the story. Potter creator J.K. Rowling is a mother of just such a 6-year-old.

When Newsweek magazine asked her whether she had begun reading the series to her daughter, Rowling replied: “I had told her, ‘Not until you’re 7,’ because I think a bright 6-year-old can definitely manage it in terms of language, but in terms of themes, things get increasingly scary and dark, and some 6-year-olds are going to be disturbed by that. So for my own daughter, I said, ‘We’re going to wait till you’re 7.’ But then she went to school, and she got completely mobbed. These older children were just talking to her endlessly about Quidditch and stuff, and she didn’t have a clue, and I thought it was unfair to keep her excluded from that, so we started reading them.”

Rowling makes an excellent point: you need to carefully consider your child’s intellectual, social, and emotional level when making your read-aloud selections. The key is to challenge them without overwhelming them.

But whatever you do, please don’t stop. Many parents mistakenly assume that their read-aloud days are over once their children learns to read. Keeping the bedtime story tradition alive through the elementary school years not only motivates a child to read him or herself, it can also help keep the lines of communication open between you and your child, as you experience together the timeless perspective on life that good literature provides.

“You may have tangible wealth untold:

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be –

I had a Mother who read to me.”

– “The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillian

Theater at the Library

Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17 and 18, 8 p.m.

Local theater group KITUS will perform “The Drunken Garden,” for all ages

Tickets are on sale at the Library: $8 for adults, $3 for seniors and under 12

Book Donations

Thanks to all who donated used books to make out annual book sale fund-raiser a huge success in August. The sale of used books continues on the shelf in the Library foyer year-round. Because of space constraints, we are only able to accept small amounts of used books in excellent condition at this time. We appreciate your support.

Special programs for Children:

“Between the Lions,” Oct. 3 – Nov. 21 (Tuesdays), 4 p.m. at the Library, for ages 4-7

Regular Childrens Programs

Saturday Morning Storytelling, for ages 3 to 7

Saturdays, 10:30 at the Library with Mrs. Fix from Church of the Mountains Preschool

Multi-Cultural Storytime for ages 3 to 5

Fridays, 10:30 at the Library

Toddlertime for ages 3 and under

Tuesdays, 10:30 at the Library

Third Thursday Evenings of Fun

Third Thursday of each month, 7 p.m. at the Library, for ages 3-6

Now on display at the Library:

– Art above the fireplace by Lee Ann Masuret.

– In the display case: April Shepherd’s salt and pepper shakers; Dave Borgmeyer’s antiques

Truckee Library

10031 Levone Avenue


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